- 01 Jan 18
Here’s eight hours of Bob Dylan singing about Jesus. No, wait, come back! As rock myths go, the notion that Dylan’s “Born-Again” period is totally devoid of merit is up there with the ‘Elvis Died When He Went In The Army” theory. Slow Train Coming is a fine record, Saved is a lot better than its reputation suggests, and Shot Of Love has ’Every Grain Of Sand’, which, as Bono and a load of others will tell you, is one of his very best songs.
At a low ebb in 1978, Dylan, the man who warned us “Don’t follow leaders”, found God in a Tucson hotel room. He felt “a presence in the room that couldn’t have been anybody but Jesus. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up.” He took a three month course in Christian study, but not everyone was feeling the spirit. When his ‘79 tour opened in San Francisco, the SF Chronicle slated what they called “Bob Dylan’s God-Awful Gospel”
You can make up your own mind over eight discs of mostly live tracks from the period, with a smattering of studio outtakes, and a DVD with a feature length mash up of live footage and some fire and brimstone ranting from Michael Shannon, that scary bloke you might recognise from Boardwalk Empire, or the time he very nearly kicked Superman’s arse. Disc five and six are a complete show from Toronto, disc seven and eight offer the full Earl’s Court performance from ’81, which does include some of his older ‘secular’ numbers. It’s a good show too, managing to breathe life into numbers as tired and over familiar as ‘Blowing In The Wind’. There is a two-disc version, but it manages to leave off all the unreleased songs, the record company keeping its eye on the well-heeled Dylan fan’s wallet.